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People who need people?

The missive below comes from one of our favorite Los Angeles journalists, Jenny Hontz. We just had to share it with you:

We had dinner Friday night with People magazine’s Cynthia Wang at the Sawtelle Franco-Japanese fusion joint Orris. We were joined by Cynthia’s husband Matthew Brand, a sound recordist she met on location covering “Survivor,” and San Jose Mercury News sports reporter Victor Chi. But Wang was on weekend duty and unable to enjoy a meal without checking her Blackberry every five minutes. When I was under contract at the magazine a few years ago, weekend duty meant monitoring certain top celebs and filing by Sunday night. Now People‘s reporters are never off the job. The competition for wedding and baby news has grown so intense that People now time codes scoops on its website.

Beating the competition by minutes means bragging rights. Wang said AP
incorrectly claimed credit for breaking the Brangelina baby news, but
People‘s time coding allowed the celeb behemoth to set the record straight.

Do the readers really care? People thinks so.

Competition is even more ferocious for photos, and pic scoops are just as hard to protect in the web era. People denies paying $4 million for the rights to print Brad and Angelina’s baby photos, the first of which is posted on People.com today, with more to follow in tomorrow’s issue.

“We’ve heard figures between $3.5 and $5 million, and this latest one of $4.1 million,” said executive editor Peter Castro. “They’re all incorrect.”

Whatever People paid, the scoop was ruined when several websites prematurely posted the first embargoed photos, scooping People and Britain’s Hello! magazine. Now there there’s talk of lawsuits to settle the score. All this for charity?

Of course, fingers are pointing to an inside job at Hello!, whose logo graced the leaked photo. Hello! features editor Juliet Herd expressed her shock and horror at the breach. “It’s a complete mystery,” she said.

A spokesperson for People magazine told reporters that “somebody from Hello! must have leaked it.”

Shall we call Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate?

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